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Los Angeles Community College District holds Lavender Graduation

Pride season coincides with Graduation season




Lavender Class of 2019 gathers for a group shot at Los Angeles Community College District in East Hollywood. (Photos by Troy Masters)

The Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD) held its second annual ‘Lavender’ graduation ceremony Saturday evening in the Student Union Building at Los Angeles City College.

LACCD is the largest community college district in the nation that serves about 230,000 full- and part-time students each year, and has an estimated 10,000 students who self-identify as members of the LGBTQI community. The ‘Lavender’ graduation ceremony was a prelude for approximately 200 graduates embracing celebration of their LGBTQI identities who will also be attending the LACCD’s principal commencement ceremonies Tuesday June 5 at the district’s nine campuses across the LA Metroplex.

Saturday’s keynote speaker was LACCD Board of Trustees’ first openly gay Board member,  David Vela.

LACCD Trustee David Vela.

Vela, the founder of HONOR PAC, (Political Action Committee that supports Latino LGBTQ political candidates), is a long time advocate for free tuition at community colleges, student housing, job training & creation and LGBTQI rights.

“My heart feels really good to see all of you here,” Vela told the graduates and their families. “Congrats to you, the graduates of the class of 2019.”

In his address he noted his background and then told those present that the reason he was attending was because he was just like them, referencing the fact he is an openly gay man.

“We are not the norm- well just not yet,” Vela said. Then he addressed the rise in hate crimes and bigotry since the election of “you know who” as the crowd laughed at his oblique reference to President Trump. Specifically Vela then referenced the deaths of 29 Trans people in 2017 as he continued to refer to Trump as “you know who.” He told the graduates that these were the reasons he is pushing for an LGBTQ “Bill of Rights” to be applied across all nine colleges in the LACCD, a statement met by enthusiastic applause.

Vela recognised Los Angeles City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell 13th District, who was in attendance, for his longtime support of LGBTQI rights.  O’Farrell was later introduced noting his status as an openly gay member of LA’s City Council.

Dr. Mary Gallagher, President of LACC spoke of her commitment to diversity and added that “history is made by people who come together to do things that are different. This is the first time in the history of the college that all 9 LACC campuses have come together to have a Lavender graduation.”

Trustee Vela, LACCD President Mary Gallagher and LA City Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell.

The student speaker, Sabrina Smith, spoke to the personal meaning for her as a member of the LGBTQI community to have a ceremony that recognized and celebrates that community.  “We the community are finally being seen, heard, acknowledged and celebrated as for far too long we haven’t.” She added that the LGBTQI students make up a significant amount of the total student body, faculty, and staff. She then gave her personal story and experiences as a student and the importance of visibility on college campuses.

LACCD Director of Institutional Advancement Michael D. Fuller, LACCD Lavender Class of 2019 Graduate Joseph Patterson and Councilmember O’Farrell.

O’Farrell congratulated the class of 2019 and then called on a round of applause in recognition of the family members of the graduates for their support. “At the end of the day, it is the allies and our family members who are supportive,” he said adding, “who really keep our spirits up.”

O’Farrell noted that the LGBTQI community “builds our own families. but it is especially blessed when it also happens to be our biological families.”

Many of the students left feeling inspired. A transwoman who identified herself at Sheila but would not give a last name, said her journey had changed because of LACCD’s free-tuition program. “I pulled myself off the streets because of this program. I realized I have potential.” Joseph Patterson, pictured above with Director of Institutional Advancement Michael D. Fuller and Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell said he was “proud of the opportunity to excel.” And, he, added, “I plan to pursue advanced degrees in Addiction and Counseling and that’s something this college has made possible  for me.”



Over half of states sue to block rule protecting LGBTQ+ students

Twenty-six GOP-led states are suing the Biden administration over changes to Title IX which are due to take effect August 1, 2024



Typical classroom in a New Jersey school via the office of the New Jersey governor. (Los Angeles Blade file photo)

By Shauneen Miranda | WASHINGTON — Twenty-six GOP-led states are suing the Biden administration over changes to Title IX aiming to protect LGBTQ+ students from discrimination in schools.

Less than a month after the U.S. Department of Education released its final rule seeking to protect against discrimination “based on sex stereotypes, sexual orientation, gender identity, and sex characteristics,” a wave of Republican attorneys general scrambled to challenge the measure.

The revised rule, which will go into effect on Aug. 1, requires schools “to take prompt and effective action when notified of conduct that reasonably may constitute sex discrimination in their education programs or activities.”

The lawsuits hail from Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming.

All of the attorneys general in the 26 states suing over the final rule are part of the Republicans Attorneys General Association.

Various advocacy groups and school boards have also tacked onto the states’ legal actions. The lawsuits carry similar language and arguments in vehemently opposing the final rule. They say the new regulations raise First Amendment concerns and accuse the rule of violating the Administrative Procedure Act.

LGBTQ+ advocates say the revised rule offers students a needed protection and complies with existing law.

“Our kids’ experience in schools should be about learning, about making friends and growing as a young person. LGBTQ+ students deserve those same opportunities,” Sarah Warbelow, vice president of legal at the LGBTQ+ advocacy group Human Rights Campaign, said in an emailed statement. “In bringing these lawsuits, these state attorneys general are attempting to rob LGBTQ+ students of their rights, illustrating a complete disregard for the humanity of LGBTQ+ students.”

GOP states band together against new regulations

In the most recent effort, Alaska, Kansas, Utah, and Wyoming sued the Biden administration on Tuesday, accusing the Department of Education of seeking to “politicize our country’s educational system to conform to the radical ideological views of the Biden administration and its allies.”

The lawsuit claims that under the updated regulations, teachers, coaches and administrators would have to “acknowledge, affirm, and validate students’ ‘gender identities’ regardless of the speakers’ own religious beliefs on the matter in violation of the First Amendment.”

In another lawsuit, a group of Southern states —  Alabama, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina — sued the administration in federal court in Alabama over the new regulations.

Republican Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall said President Joe Biden “has brazenly attempted to use federal funding to force radical gender ideology onto states that reject it at the ballot box” since he took office.

“Now our schoolchildren are the target. The threat is that if Alabama’s public schools and universities do not conform, then the federal government will take away our funding,” Marshall said in a press release.

The lawsuit also drew praise from Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who said “Biden is abusing his constitutional authority to push an ideological agenda that harms women and girls and conflicts with the truth.” He added that the Sunshine State will “not comply” and instead “fight back against Biden’s harmful agenda.”

Individual states sue the administration 

Meanwhile, some states have opted to file individual lawsuits against the administration.

In Texas, Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton sued the Biden administration late last month in federal court in Amarillo. Paxton filed an amended complaint earlier this week, with two new plaintiffs added.

In an April 29 press release, Paxton said the Lone Star State “will not allow Joe Biden to rewrite Title IX at whim, destroying legal protections for women in furtherance of his radical obsession with gender ideology.”

Oklahoma’s Republican Attorney General Gentner Drummond filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration earlier this month in federal court in Oklahoma. The state’s education department also filed a separate suit against the Biden administration.

A hodgepodge of states


In late April, Republican attorneys general in Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee, West Virginia and Virginia filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration in federal court in Kentucky.

The states argued that the U.S. Education Department “has used rulemaking power to convert a law designed to equalize opportunities for both sexes into a far broader regime of its own making.”

Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi and Montana also sued the Biden administration in late April, echoing the language seen in the other related lawsuits. Seventeen local school boards in Louisiana also joined the states.

Earlier this month, Arkansas, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota also brought a collective legal challenge to the final rule.

A spokesperson for the Education Department said the department does not comment on pending litigation but noted that “as a condition of receiving federal funds, all federally-funded schools are obligated to comply with these final regulations.” They added that the department looks forward “to working with school communities all across the country to ensure the Title IX guarantee of nondiscrimination in school is every student’s experience.”

The department has yet to finalize a separate rule that establishes new criteria for transgender athletes. So far, 24 states have passed laws that ban transgender students from partaking in sports that align with their gender identity, according to the Movement Advancement Project.


Shauneen Miranda

Shauneen Miranda is a reporter for States Newsroom’s Washington bureau. An alumna of the University of Maryland, she previously covered breaking news for Axios.


The preceding article was previously published by the States Newsroom and is republished with permission.

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Trans bathroom restrictions heads to Louisiana governor’s desk 

The bill would also require a trans man, even one who has transitioned via hormones & gender affirming surgery, to use women. facilities



Rep. Roger Wilder walks back to his desk on the House floor. (Louisiana Illuminator/Allison Allsop)

By Piper Hutchinson | BATON ROUGUE, La. – The Louisiana Senate easily passed a controversial bill restricting what bathrooms, changing rooms and sleeping quarters transgender people use in public facilities, sending it to the governor’s desk for action. 

House Bill 608 by Rep. Roger Wilder, R-Denham Springs, passed the Senate on a 29-10 vote after less than 15 minutes of discussion. Senate President Pro Tempore Regina Barrow, D-Baton Rouge, voted with Republicans on the bill. Sen. Katrina Jackson-Andrews, D-Monroe, voted against the bill but later added her name as a co-author. 

Wilder’s bill, which he’s dubbed the “Women’s Safety and Protection Act,” would segregate all bathrooms, changing and locker rooms as well as sleeping quarters by sex in public schools, domestic violence shelters and correctional facilities, prohibiting transgender people from using facilities that align with their gender identity. 

When he presented his bill to the House last month, Wilder was unable to point to a specific incident in Louisiana in which a woman or girl was harmed by a transgender woman at a public restroom or changing facility. 

Kate Kelly, a spokesperson for Republican Gov. Jeff Landry, was not immediately able to confirm Landry’s plans for the bill. The arch-conservative governor has openly supported other anti-LGBTQ+ measures, including two that restrict the discussion of gender and sexuality in K-12 schools

The bill also defines the terms “man,” “woman,” “girl,” “boy,” “male” and “female.” These definitions specifically exclude gender identity, which the bill does not define. 

Wilder’s proposal was carried on the Senate floor by Sen. Beth Mizell, R-Franklinton, who authored a law that prevents transgender people from competing in women’s sports

The bill was opposed by several LGBTQ+ rights advocates who argued the bill needlessly harms transgender people. The Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law estimates there are approximately 20,000 transgender people living in Louisiana

“This bill represents a deeply troubling attempt to deny the humanity and dignity of an already vulnerable population by seeking to eliminate legal recognition of gender identities beyond the binary,” SarahJane Guidry, executive director of Forum for Equality, an LGBTQ+ rights organization, said at a committee hearing on the bill last week

Transgender people tend to experience higher rates of domestic violence and have higher suicide rates than people who identify as the gender they were assigned at birth. While many domestic violence shelters already turn away transgender people, Wilder’s bill would require they do so unless they have the space to offer separate sleeping quarters and bathrooms for transgender people. 

While Wilder pitched his bill as a way to keep women and girls from feeling uncomfortable or unsafe when men enter private areas, the legislation would require a transgender man, even one who has transitioned via hormones and gender affirming surgery, to use facilities designated for women. 

A transgender man is a man who was assigned female at birth. Transitioning refers to actions taken by a transgender person to align their bodies with their identified gender. 

The bill would allow anybody who experiences, or is expected to experience, direct or indirect harm as a violation of the bill to sue, including someone who is retaliated against for pointing out a violation. 


Piper Hutchinson is a reporter for the Louisiana Illuminator. She has covered the Legislature and state government extensively for the LSU Manship News Service and The Reveille, where she was named editor in chief for summer 2022.


The preceding piece was previously published by the Louisiana Illuminator and is republished by permission.

Louisiana Illuminator is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Louisiana Illuminator maintains editorial independence.

Follow Louisiana Illuminator on Facebook and Twitter.

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New Hampshire

New Hampshire passes 3 anti-Trans bills in one day, more to come

New Hampshire appears poised to become one of the most risky states for transgender youth and adults in the Northeast



New Hampshire Republican Governor Chris Sununu speaking at the National Governors Association, September 2023. (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor/Facebook)

By Erin Reed | CONCORD, N.H. – On Thursday, the New Hampshire Legislature passed three separate anti-trans and anti-LGBTQ+ bills targeting transgender people in sports, schools, and medical care.

All three bills are now headed to the Governor Chris Sununu’s desk for final passage, but he has not yet indicated whether he will sign the bills. However, the governor previously joined 24 other Republican governors in a letter opposing President Biden’s Title IX rules that bar discrimination against transgender people in schools. More anti-trans bills are expected to be heard and potentially voted on next week.

Among the bills that passed were:

  • House Bill 1205: This bill bars transgender youth from participating in sports that match their gender identity from grades 5-12. If a student’s “biological sex” is unclear or challenged, the law requires that “other evidence” of their assigned sex at birth be provided. This provision has been interpreted to potentially require genital inspections. Senator Ruth Ward, when confronted with these concerns, stated, “There are ways of finding out whether you’re a male or female… I would check with the coach or medical physician for the team,” which did not alleviate concerns. Similar laws have been blocked in courts in West Virginia and Ohio.
  • House Bill 1312This bill is similar to “Don’t Say Gay or Trans” legislation that has been passed in a variety of other Republican-controlled states nationwide. It defines LGBTQ+ topics as “objectionable” and requires two weeks of notice before any curriculum or course material used for instruction around sexual orientation or gender identity is introduced and could allow parents to opt their children out. Democrats argued that the bill was overly broad and could require notice for any book dealing with gender identity and sexuality, including books depicting heterosexual relationships. Similar concerns were used to dismiss a law in Iowa in court after a judge determined that merely mentioning a husband and wife could run afoul of the law.
  • House Bill 619: House Bill 619 bars bottom surgery for transgender youth in the state. Although such surgeries are exceedingly rare and no evidence was presented that they are occurring in New Hampshire, the bill sets a precedent that elected officials should have a say over the healthcare decisions of individual transgender patients and their doctors. Importantly, the law also prohibits referrals out of state, which could limit options and information for transgender youth.

Two more bills are still being considered in the state and may be heard next week. House Bill 1660 would bar Medicaid coverage for any gender reassignment surgeries for those under 18, including chest masculinization or feminization surgeries. Courts have recently ruled that such bars on coverage is unconstitutional, including landmark rulings from the 4th and 11th Circuit Courts of Appeal. Also pending is House Bill 396, which could roll back discrimination protections for transgender people and would allow for discrimination in bathrooms, sports, competitions, correction centers, mental health hospitals, and more.

New Hampshire appears poised to become one of the most risky states for transgender youth and adults in the Northeast. All surrounding states have passed significant protections for transgender people, including “shield” laws that protect the privacy of patients seeking reproductive or gender-affirming healthcare across state lines. Should nondiscrimination protections be rolled back, transgender people may face a confusing landscape over such simple questions as whether they are allowed to use the bathroom as they travel through the state. Similarly, regional sporting events could be heavily impacted.

The votes in New Hampshire previously came down to the wire in the House. For every bill listed, a number of House Democrats voted yes, were marked as present not voting, or missed the vote and were recorded as absent.

Although Democrats do not hold a majority in the House, more than 12 Democrats failed to vote “no” on virtually every bill when they were heard in the House, allowing the bills to pass. Some legislators have contended that this is due to the size of the New Hampshire House, which consists of 400 members, leading to many members missing votes due to illness.

This issue seemed to affect Democrats more severely than Republicans for most votes, and even motions for reconsideration on separate days similarly failed. Notably, the “objectionable materials” bill passed by only a single vote, with 13 Democrats not voting or abstaining.

Reacting to the votes, Linds Jakows, Founder of 603 Equality, said, “Today, the so-called ‘Live Free or Die’ State sent a harmful message to LGBTQ Granite Staters, especially transgender young people, by attacking their healthcare, opportunities for inclusion at school, and access to learning about people like them. Now, Governor Sununu must clearly affirm that these bills have no place in a state that just 6 years ago, became the first entirely Republican-controlled state legislature to update its nondiscrimination law to include trangender people. In 2018 he said repeatedly that ‘it’s the right thing to do.’ Mr. Sununu, treating transgender people with dignity and respect is still the right thing to do.” 

Remaining votes are scheduled for next week. Meanwhile, Governor Sununu has not indicated whether or not he will sign the bills that have passed.


Erin Reed is a transgender woman (she/her pronouns) and researcher who tracks anti-LGBTQ+ legislation around the world and helps people become better advocates for their queer family, friends, colleagues, and community. Reed also is a social media consultant and public speaker.


The preceding article was first published at Erin In The Morning and is republished with permission.

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Northern California

Hate group wins federal lawsuit settlement with Yolo County Library

The anti-LGBTQ+ hate and extremist group Moms for Liberty had sued in federal court alleging their free speech rights had been violated



Mary L Stephens Davis Branch of the Yolo County Library. (Photo Credit: Yolo County, California)

DAVIS, Calif. – Yolo County Library officials this week announced that they had agreed to settle a lawsuit brought by Moms for Liberty, a group listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an anti-LGBTQ+ hate and extremist group, after library officials had shut down their local chapter’s anti-transgender forum last August.

The lawsuit had been filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California on behalf of Moms For Liberty by the Alliance Defending Freedom, a legal group listed by the SPLC as a hate group and the Institute for Free Speech.

In addition to $70,000 in damages and attorneys fees, the settlement calls for library policy to mandate that staff “shall not interfere with presentations or other speech by individuals or groups that have reserved meeting rooms based on the content of such speech” and to instruct staff to “curtail any disruptive behavior” during events.

The settlement further stipulates to allow Moms for Liberty – Yolo County, Independent Council on Women’s Sports, California Family Council, and other parental rights and women’s advocates to use the library to hold a discussion on fairness in women’s sports.

Last August 20, during the course of a presentation by Sophia Lorey, a former college soccer player at Vanguard University, Lorey had repeatedly misgendered trans female athletes and then in commencing her remarks, stated “current 10-year-old girls cannot live out the same dream as long as men are allowed to compete in women’s sports.”

Lorey, who has podcast devoted to transphobic misinformation, works as a Outreach Director for the California Family Council. The purpose of her presentation and the forum according to the event’s sponsors was to inform and make parents aware of the California Interscholastic Federation’s participation policies for transgender athletes in high school girls’ sports.

As Lorey continued her presentation she was warned by the Regional Manager for Yolo County’s library system, D. Scott Love, that misgendering trans athletes would not be permitted to continue. In addition supporters of Moms for Liberty and the California Family Council, there were also pro-LGBTQ+ supporters who had loudly interrupted Lorey, making statements such as ‘trans women are women.’

The interruptions coupled with Lorey’s insistence on labeling transwomen “biologically men” caused Love to take further action and he disbanded the event asking the participants and audience to leave.

Anti-trans activist and former NCAA swimmer Riley Gaines shared the video of the altercation via Twitter and applauded Lorey.

This is ridiculous, but not shocking….a female athlete silenced for calling a spade a spade. They won’t even engage in a civil conversation. Props to this gal for sticking her ground,” she wrote.

The outrage by the far-right ballooned after anti-LGBTQ+ social media pundit Chaya Raichik who runs the Libs of Tik Tok X (formerly Twitter account) with over 2.4M followers tweeted:

“UNREAL. California library kicked out a group holding an event after they “misgendered” people by referring to males in female sports as males. The librarian suggests it’s against state law to misgender.”

On August 21, after Libs of TikTok’s posts on X, the Yolo County Sheriff’s Office was notified by a local news station regarding an email from an unknown source that made a threat to the Mary L. Stephens Yolo County Library in Davis. The email made a threat to detonate a bomb and include some form of hate speech.

The Davis Police Department quickly responded to the scene and evacuated approximately 10 county employees. Two adjacent buildings were also evacuated in an abundance of caution.

The Yolo County Regional Bomb Squad and Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department K-9’s responded to the scene. A search of the building resulted in negative findings.

The Sacramento Bee reported: A Sacramento-area library was evacuated Monday morning and a nearby elementary school and high school sheltered in place after law enforcement was notified of a bomb threat containing anti-LGBTQ hate speech, authorities said. It was the third threat against the library in the past week, police and deputies said.

The threats continued for the next week as Yolo County Sheriff’s Office issued a statement on August 29 saying: “The Mary L. Stephens Davis Branch Library has been targeted by bomb threats. These messages share a common thread of hateful content and revolve around a heated meeting there. The Yolo County Sheriff’s Office is investigating these incidents, with the FBI, to identify suspects.”

After the announcement to the settlement of the lawsuit was made public, the Davis Phoenix Coalition, who works with LGBTQ+ youth and its chair, Anoosh Jorjorian, provided ABC10 with the following statement:

“The Davis Phoenix Coalition is dedicated to ending hate crimes, bullying, and identity-based discrimination. We appreciate that our public library has been put in the difficult position of providing a space for free speech while also protecting the safety of their patrons. We hope cases such as these might open the question of when hate speech crosses a line into being threatening or inciting. The humanity and rights of all Americans should never be a subject of a debate.”

Attorneys with Alliance Defending Freedom and the Institute for Free Speech weighed in saying in a statement:

“Women have the right to speak about their concerns regarding men competing in their sports, and public officials have a constitutional duty to uphold that right regardless of whether they agree with the point of view presented,” said ADF Senior Counsel Tyson Langhofer, director of the ADF Center for Academic Freedom. “Shutting down discussions about biological differences between men and women is, sadly, a growing trend among activists seeking to erase women and harm children. While they should never have shut down the event, Yolo County library officials are right to change course and enact policies that align with the First Amendment. We are hopeful other public officials—whether at libraries, schools, or anywhere else—see this as an opportunity to take a strong stance for the speech and assembly rights of all Americans.”

“This settlement is a clear victory for free speech and the First Amendment,” said Institute for Free Speech Vice President for Litigation Alan Gura. “Yolo County officials tried to silence speakers and shut down an event because the ideas expressed there didn’t comport with the officials’ preferred ideology. As a result of this lawsuit, Yolo County has now agreed to respect the right of all Americans to freely express their views in public spaces without fear of government censorship.”

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House ethics complaint filed over GOP staffer’s anti-trans email

“You’re disgusting and should be ashamed of yourself. Don’t email me or anyone from my office ever again!” 



Matthew Donnellan, chief of staff to Republican U.S. Rep. Carol Miller (W.Va.), in 2012. (Screenshot/YouTube San Diego City Beat)

WASHINGTON — A federal government employee has filed a complaint to the U.S. House Ethics Committee over an email they received from Matthew Donnellan, chief of staff to Republican U.S. Rep. Carol Miller (W.Va.), which contained combative and anti-trans language. 

The Washington Blade has seen the correspondence between the parties, in which the confrontation was apparently kicked off when the congresswoman’s top aide received an email that included the sender’s preferred pronouns in the signature box, triggering his reply.

Donnellan wrote, “As a father, it is disgusting that anyone would ever tell my son or daughter that something is wrong with them and they should take sterilizing hormones or have surgery to cut off their genitals.”  

“The fact that you support that ideology by putting pronouns in your signature is awful,” he said, adding, “You’re disgusting and should be ashamed of yourself. Don’t email me or anyone from my office ever again.” 

A senior government official told the Blade in a written statement that the email was not out of character for Donnellan:

 “I’ve heard from two colleagues several months apart about two separate transphobic emails, using identical language, from Matthew. Unfortunately these emails—though inconsistent with the typical collegiality one would expect from a Chief of Staff on the Hill—is likely a reflection of both increased partisanship on the Hill and a rise in anti-LGBTQ rhetoric from the right.

“Not only is this virtual, hate-filled temper tantrum unbecoming of a Chief of Staff, inappropriate, and unprofessional, it also hurts his boss’s constituents. DC is built on congressional staff, members of Congress, and executive officials being able to put aside their differences to find unlikely areas of commonality where they can work together. 

“Even some of the most progressive members, like [U.S. Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.) and Jerry Nadler (N.Y.)] have partnered with some of the most conservative members, like [U.S. Reps. Matt Gaetz (Fla.) and Jim Jordan (Ohio)], respectively, when they can find common ground. 

“Matthew’s refusal to work with an agency department or office just because a staffer has pronouns in their signature isn’t just hateful—it means he’s cutting off opportunities to deliver results for his boss’s constituents, especially in a divided Washington.”

Donnellan told the Blade by email that his response to the government employee is “a reply I send to anyone who uses pronouns or pushes gender ideology in any way.” 

“No one is ‘born in the wrong body’ and it’s horrific to tell anyone that they need genital mutilation surgery or sterilizing drugs,” he said. “People who push gender ideology, actively or passively, are awful and should be confronted every single time.”

“If the blunt reality of the terrible things that they are pushing is offensive to them then they should strongly reconsider what it this they believe and the harm that they are doing rather than simply trying to conform to liberal luxury beliefs,” Donnellan said. 

Addressing the complaint filed against him, Donnellan said, “I haven’t heard anything from Ethics and doubt that I will, they generally don’t waste their time with sheltered progressives being forced into the real world for the first time.”

A House Ethics Committee spokesperson declined to comment when asked if they could confirm receipt of the complaint.

Asked whether Miller might object to the way that she and her Congressional office are represented with these confrontational email exchanges, Donnellan said his boss’s “motto is ‘cut the bull’, and gender ideology is some of the biggest bull there is.”   

On Friday, the congresswoman’s son Chris Miller placed third in the Republican primary contest for West Virginia’s gubernatorial race, where the state’s Attorney General Patrick Morrissey secured his party’s nomination in a decisive victory with 33 percent of the vote. 

Leading up to the election, trans issues had emerged as a dominant focal point as the GOP candidates squared off against each other, with Miller’s campaign attacking Morrissey with allegations that he had profited from “the trans agenda” and backed a drug company that “helps turn boys into girls” when working as a healthcare lobbyist in Washington.  

In one ad that was paid for by a super PAC chaired by his father, Miller said the pronouns used by Morrissey are “money-grubbing liberal,” an interesting charge to level at the conservative Republican attorney general of West Virginia (even notwithstanding the fact that those three words are not pronouns but, rather, nouns and verbs.)

Declaring preferred pronouns in workplace email signatures has become commonplace in both the public and private sector, whether for purposes of sending an affirming message to transgender and gender expansive employees and officers or to mitigate the chances that either they or their cisgender counterparts might be unintentionally misgendered. 

The Biden-Harris administration has pushed for agencies to adopt the practice along with other measures and policies to advance the rights and wellbeing of trans and gender expansive employees across the federal government. 

In a 2021 announcement of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s issuance of updated guidance on the agency’s email signature block, Michael Watts, director of civil rights for the U.S. Forrest Service, noted that “There are plenty of gender-neutral names out there, or names from other cultures that might not give you enough information to know their gender.” 

While the inclusion of pronouns was not made mandatory at USDA, he urged employees to “strongly consider taking this small but important step toward supporting inclusiveness in the workplace.” 

“The use of pronouns in our email signatures and getting into the habit of including pronouns in our introductions doesn’t really cost us anything,” Watts added, arguing that the move constitutes “a meaningful exchange to others and makes it easier for people to be respectful in how they address each other.”

“I just think it’s the right thing to do,” he said. 

Official guidance published by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, which is responsible for administering policies across the U.S. federal civil service, stipulates that agencies should “take steps to provide the option for employees to include the pronouns they use in employee systems and profiles, including email signature blocks, employee directories and employee profiles.”

Some have gone further, such as by adding pronouns to email signatures for all employees, as the U.S. Department of State did in 2023, while others like USDA have established, as official policy, that “employees are encouraged to include their pronouns in the first line of their email signature block (e.g. he/him/his). Signature blocks are a simple and effective way for individuals to communicate their identified pronouns to colleagues, stakeholders, and customers.”

“For example,” the USDA writes, “adding pronouns to signature blocks also has the benefit of indicating to the recipient that you will respect their gender identity and choice of pronouns.”

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Bill to support LGBTQ+ seniors in rural areas reintroduced

“LGBTQ+ elders and older people living with HIV live in every part of this nation & should be able to access services and care”



U.S. Capitol Building (Photo Credit: Washington Blade/Michael Key)

WASHINGTON – Representatives Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Mark Pocan (D-WI), and Sharice Davids (D-KS) reintroduced legislation to increase access to needed services and resources for LGBTQ+ seniors who live in rural areas this week.

The Elder Pride Act would bolster the capacity and ability of Area Agencies on Aging (AAA) located in rural communities to better serve and support LGBTQ+ seniors who often require affirming care, services, and supports that are often underfunded and scarce in many parts of the country.

Recent surveys show that between 2.9 million and 3.8 million LGBTQ+ people live in rural American communities.

“LGBTQ+ elders and older people living with HIV live in every part of this nation, including rural areas. We all deserve to be able to age in our communities with the services and supports we need to remain independent,” SAGE CEO Michael Adams said in the press release announcing the reintroduction of the legislation. “We commend Representatives Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Mark Pocan (D-WI), and Sharice Davids (D-KS) on reintroducing the Elder Pride Act. And we honor the contributions of our many LGBTQ+ trailblazers whose tireless advocacy allowed us to reintroduce this critical bill. We look forward to working alongside Reps. Bonamici, Pocan, and Davids, and our LGBTQ+ pioneers nationwide to pass this legislation.”

“LGBTQI+ seniors should be able to access services and care that meets their unique needs, regardless of where they live,” said Rep. Bonamici, Chair of the Equality Caucus’ LGBTQ+ Aging Issues Task Force.”Those who live in rural areas frequently face increased barriers, which Congress can break down. The Elder Pride Act will increase resources for programs and services that will improve the lives of LGBTQI+ elders.”

“The Elder Pride Act will improve the overall health and social and economic well-being of LGBTQI+ older adults and seniors living with HIV in rural areas by better equipping senior service providers with resources to address the unique needs of these communities. I’m pleased to introduce this important legislation with my colleagues and co-leaders on the Equality Caucus, Reps. Pocan and Davids,” Bonamici added.

“Rural LGBTQI+ seniors have been lacking access to necessary services and care for too long,” said Pocan, Co-Chair of the Congressional LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus. “The Elder Pride Act creates opportunities for LGBTQ+ seniors in rural communities, benefiting everyone in the region. I look forward to advancing this important legislation.”

“Many of our LGBTQ+ elders fought tirelessly for equality in a world that refused to accept their identity,” said Rep. Davids. “While they overcame tremendous odds to give future generations the rights they deserve, our elders, particularly those in rural communities, continue to face discrimination when accessing long-term care and healthcare. I am proud to support the Elder Pride Act because who you are and who you love should never increase your risk for isolation, poverty, and poor health outcomes as you age.”

The Elder Pride Act complements the Older American Act, which was updated under Bonamici’s leadership, by establishing a rural grant program designed to fund care and services for LGBTQI+ seniors. The grant would also support programs that:

• provide services such as cultural competency training for service providers;

• develop modes of connection between LGBTQI+ older adults and local service providers and community organizations;

• expand the use of nondiscrimination policies and community spaces for older adults who are members of the LGBTQI+ community or another protected class; and,

• disseminate resources on sexual health and aging for senior service providers.

A fact sheet on the legislation can be found here, and the full text can be found here.

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Federal Government

CDC issues warning on new “deadlier strain” of Mpox

As LGBTQ+ Pride month and events happen globally, there is more need for greater caution and people to take steps at prevention



JYNNEOS Mpox vaccine. (Photo Credit: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-CDC)

ATLANTA, Ga. – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have issued a health advisory regarding a deadlier strain of the Mpox virus outbreak which is currently impacting the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

According to the CDC, since January of 2023, DRC has reported more than 19,000 suspect mpox cases and more than 900 deaths. The CDC stated that the overall risk to the United States posed by the clade I mpox outbreak is low.

The risk to gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM) who have more than one sexual partner and people who have sex with MSM, regardless of gender, is assessed as low to moderate the agency stated.

While no cases of that subtype have been identified outside sub-Saharan Africa so far, the World Health Organization said earlier this week that the escalating epidemic in Congo nevertheless poses a global threat, just as infections in Nigeria set off the 2022 outbreak according to a WHO spokesperson.

The spokesperson also noted that as LGBTQ+ Pride month and events happen globally, there is more need for greater caution and people to take steps at prevention including being vaccinated.

The CDC advises that while there are no changes to the overall risk assessment, people in the United States who have already had Mpox or are fully vaccinated should be protected against the type of Mpox spreading in DRC. Casual contact, such as might occur during travel, is not likely to cause the disease to spread. The best protection against Mpox is two doses of the JYNNEOS vaccine.

The CDC also noted the risk might change as more information becomes available, or if cases appear outside DRC or other African countries where clade I exists naturally.

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U.S. State Department

State Department travel advisory warns of potential anti-LGBTQ+ violence

FBI issued similar warning this week



State Department (Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress)

WASHINGTON — The State Department on Friday issued a worldwide travel advisory that warns of potential violence against LGBTQ+ people and LGBTQ+-specific events.

“Due to the potential for terrorist attacks, demonstrations, or violent actions against U.S. citizens and interests, the Department of State advises U.S. citizens overseas to exercise increased caution,” reads the advisory. “The Department of State is aware of the increased potential for foreign terrorist organization-inspired violence against LGBTQI+ persons and events and advises U.S. citizens overseas to exercise increased caution.”  

The advisory further urges U.S. citizens to:

  • Stay alert in locations frequented by tourists, including Pride celebrations and venues frequented by LGBTQI+ persons.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive information and alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency overseas.
  • Follow the Department of State on Facebook and Twitter.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Homeland Security Investigations earlier this week issued a similar advisory.

The advisory notes June 12 will mark eight years since the massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla.

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Riverside County

Riverside County school district settles suit with anti-trans teacher

She had requested a religious accommodation, saying the district’s policies went against her beliefs “regarding human sexuality and lying”



Jurupa Valley High School, Riverside County California. (Photo Credit: Jurupa Valley High School/Facebook)

JURUPA VALLEY, Calif. – The Jurupa Unified School District agreed to settle a federal lawsuit brought by a former teacher terminated over her refusal to follow District policies regarding transgender or gender-nonconforming students, citing her Christian beliefs.

The school district, located in Riverside County, in an agreement reached Tuesday will pay Jessica Tapia, who taught physical education at Jurupa Valley High School, $285,000, as well as $75,000 for her attorneys’ fees. JUSD however did not admit any wrongdoing and both parties agreed to not disparage each other or file future lawsuits. Additionally Tapia agreed to the stipulation to not seek future employment with the district.

The Los Angeles Times reported that as revealed in court documents, Tapia had refused — hypothetically, in statements to district personnel — to use students’ preferred pronouns, to allow them to use the locker room matching their gender identity, or to “withhold information” from parents about their child’s gender identity.

Julianne Fleischer, one of Tapia’s attorneys, called the settlement an “incredible victory,” the Times also reported.

“Her religious beliefs were not accommodated when they could have been,” said Fleischer, legal counsel for Advocates for Faith & Freedom, a Murrieta-based nonprofit religious liberties group. “We think it sends a strong message that there’s a price to pay when you ask a teacher to lie and withhold information.”

Jacquie Paul, a Jurupa Unified spokesperson, told multiple media outlets that the settlement was a “compromise of a disputed claim.”

“The decision to settle this case was made … in the best interest of the students, such that the district can continue to dedicate all of its resources and efforts to educate and support its student population regardless of their protected class,” Paul said in a statement.

Tapia was hired by the district in 2014, first as a substitute and later full time, and taught both middle school and high school physical education. She was fired in January 2023, after she requested a religious accommodation, saying the district’s policies went against her beliefs “regarding human sexuality and lying,” according to the lawsuit.

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Los Angeles County

Culver City considers ordinance for gender neutral public restrooms

It has 11 design elements for security, privacy, light, ventilation, & signage- key concerns for users of public restroom facilities



Culver City is a five-square-mile, urban community of 40,779 residents surrounded mostly by the City of Los Angeles but also shares a border with unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County. (Photo Credit: Culver City)

CULVER CITY – On Monday, the City Council unanimously approved the introduction of an ordinance requiring Gender Neutral Public Restrooms for new construction projects.

Newly constructed buildings will soon be required to include gender neutral public restrooms in Culver City. Existing buildings will not be required to retrofit current layouts but may voluntarily do so. The ordinance needs two readings at City Council meetings prior to going into effect.

The proposed ordinance requires single-user and multi-user public toilet facilities to use signage indicating that the facilities are accessible to all users, and not restricted to persons of a specific sex or gender identity. There are 11 design elements for security, privacy, light, ventilation, and signage, which are key concerns for all users of public restroom facilities. Staff also noted the new ordinance would likely cutdown on square footage needed for restrooms in new buildings.

The City Council began Monday’s meeting with declaring five proclamations which included:

Proclaiming May 2024 as Jewish American Heritage Month. In the proclamation, it stated Culver City shares an obligation to condemn and combat antisemitism wherever it exists, to include Jewish Americans in all facets of civic life, and to stand with the Jewish American community against hatred or bigotry in our city and country. The City Council calls upon all residents to celebrate the rich and diverse heritage of the Jewish American community, including those who live, work, and play in Culver City, playing a vital role in contributing to all aspects of life in Culver and honors the generations of residents and immigrants who have enriched our nations’ narrative.

During the month of May, Culver City celebrates Asian American Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Heritage Month and pays tribute to the contributions of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders who have enriched our history and been an integral part of our community. The theme for AANHPI Heritage Month in 2024 is “Advancing Leaders Through Innovation” which celebrates lasting contributions of persons of AANHPI descent, from technological advancements to social/political changes, while navigating significant cultural and systemic barriers. Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders lend their rich heritage to enhance our community, playing a vital role and contributing to all aspects of life in Culver City. The City Council celebrates the diaspora and honors the generations of residents and immigrants who have enriched our nations’ narrative.

May is also Historic Preservation Month. This year Preservation Month focuses on “People Saving Places” which recognizes everyone doing great work of saving places – in ways big and small – and inspiring others to do the same. The Culver City Historical Society, established in 1980, continues its mission of collecting, preserving and exhibiting the history of Culver City and its environs through new partnerships to expand and diversity audiences and incorporate future generations into their work. The City Council encourages all residents and visitors to discover or re-discover, honor, and share the unique history of Culver City.

The City Council also proclaimed May 2024 as National Cities, Towns, and Villages Month in celebration of America’s local governments and the National League of Cities’ historic centennial anniversary. Over the years, it has has successfully championed federal legislative solutions that support municipalities and has worked closely with Congress and the Executive Branch to educate policymakers on the realities of local implementation. The City of Culver City is a proud member of the National League of Cities, and has benefited from the organization’s research, technical expertise, federal advocacy and opportunities to learn from other local governments.

In its final proclamation of the evening, City Council recognized National Bike Month. Culver City has participated in this important effort by implementing the Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan, hosting events like CicLAvia, sponsoring the Culver City Walk & Rollers program, and installing and maintaining a growing network of bike lanes and paths. You can view the map on the Culver CityBus website. Culver City, community organizations, and partners throughout Los Angeles County have worked together to promote greater public awareness of bicycling throughout the month of May. The City Council encourages all community members and students to reap the benefits of bicycling as a form of transportation and exercise.

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